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>Maybe she’s older than I thought

>People’s Leah Rozen on the new Nancy Drew movie: ” . . . all that talk of Ned, roadsters and hunting for clues in abandoned mansions paled next to the thrill-filled young adult novels I was sneaking off my adolescent sister’s bookshelf, like Johnny Tremain and Island of the Blue Dolphins.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Anonymous says:

    >She had to sneak Johnny Tremain from her sister’s bookshelf? Better yet, she wanted to sneak it from the bookshelf?

    While I can appreciate that book as an adult (well, kind of), they had to make it Required Reading when I was in school…and it turned me off, for many years, to that golden seal on its cover.

    (from an author who doesn’t want to offend the Golden Seal Committee)

  2. Anonymous says:

    >Don’t laugh! Tremain and Island are both still in print and earning big bucks for their original hardback and paperback publishers (And authors’ estates).

  3. Anonymous says:

    >Tremain was required reading in my elementary school (can’t remember which grade I read it in), and I remember we were still cracking wise and making reference jokes about it up into high school. It was a “thing” to claim you had “Johnny Tremain hand” after taking long written exams, if your hand was all cramped from the furious writing …

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >I’m only laughing because I don’t think of either books as being a “young adult novel,” nor do I think “thrilling” is how a kid who describe either. This is emphatically NOT to put down either book–just that their rewards are perceived differently from those of, say, YA novels like Go Ask Alice.

    It sounds to me like Rozen filled in the blanks of her memory with two respectable books she enjoyed as a kid. And since she was showing off anyway she went for the Gold. I’m sure I’ve told you all about the phone call I got from Montel Williams’ producer, asking what books a ten-year-old boy in 1966 would have been reading. Lucky for Montel, he and I are the same age 😉

  5. Disco Mermaids says:

    >Likewise, I don’t understand people who assume that whenever you discuss children’s lit., you must be speaking of picture books.

    I recently gave a talk about my forthcoming YA (which deals with suicide) to a group of non-children’s lit. writers. After 50 minutes of discussing my writing process and the themes of my novel, we moved on to the Q&A.

    First question: Do you do your own illustrations?


    – Jay

  6. KT Horning says:

    >Both of those books were read aloud in the classroom by my fifth grade teacher, Sandra “Turkey Legs” Dawson, and I found them both thrilling at the time. So I *did* sneak them off the shelves — at my public library branch — so I could read ahead in them on the sly. I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next to Johnny & Lavinia & Karana.

    I read and enjoyed a lot of the Newbery Medal books on my own. I think I may be the only person who read “Adam of the Road” as a kid, so maybe my taste was skewed.

    As for the “young adult” tag, I agree that neither is YA, but neither is the Nancy Drew series, in spite of the fact she’s a teenager. If labels in books stores are any indication, many non-librarians seem to use the term “young adult” to mean anything that’s not a picture book or easy reader.

    BTW, the Nancy Drew movie’s pretty good, but it probably wouldn’t be funny to anyone who hasn’t read Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. When I saw it, the adults in the audience were all laughing their heads off, while the accompanying kids (mostly 10 year olds girls) were looking at us like they were crazy.

  7. >We read Johnny Tremain in eighth grade and I remember was that the one girl’s name was Dorcas, and our enlightened group of 13 year olds giggled for the rest of the reading time over that. Poor girl.

  8. Louise Brueggemann says:

    >Speaking of Nancy Drew . . .
    I saw a poster for the movie in front of a theater, and was struck by how young the actress/character looked – like a schoolgirl, with her long, straight hair in a headband, her plaid skirt, her arms across her chest. The Nancy Drew I remember looked very grownup, with womanly curves and a sophisticated hair style. I know that Nancy’s image has changed many times over the decades, but when I saw this image, I thought it was really too bad that she’s now depicted as a little girl . . . and then I realized that adult women are themselves often depicted as little girls. Very sad – though I’m glad to hear that the movie has some merits.

    From Chicago, where I’m trying to keep up with my blog reading because I’m not able to be in Washington –


  9. Anonymous says:

    >apropos of YA novelists (in a non sequitor way) why do so many YA writers seem to think they can write fiction for adults? most recently Ann Brashares, before her Jane Langston whose detective novels are really juvenile, and perhaps worst of all Richard Peck, who produced the most imnplausible female impersonation in NEW YORK TIME. Probably the adult bestseller novelists (Patterson, Parker, et al) are equally incompetent when they tackle books for children but I haven’t read them

  10. Louise Brueggemann says:

    >That seems a little harsh. Authors are just doing what they do – writing books. Perhaps a better question is, are editors choosing the appropriate market to publish the books for? Beyond that, of course, not every book that’s published is equally worthy of being widely read, but why fault the authors for trying to stretch a little?

  11. Anonymous says:

    >well, of course it’s all COMMERCE. One assumes (in the case of the bestseller adult fiction writers) that it is the editor who makes the suggestion – a new way of repackaging old goods for a different market.

    But the YA writers must presumbaly read something besides children’s books and should be able to see the difference between what they write and what adult readers deserve.

  12. Roger Sutton says:

    >For every Ann Brashares or Judy Blume (I like that Richard Peck book), there’s a Paula Fox or Penelope Lively. And for every James Patterson there’s a Sherman Alexie. I don’t think generalizing either way will get you very far before you stumble on exceptions we can all be happy for.

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